101 Freeway Pranksters Slapped With Felony Charges

Criminal charges were filed Tuesday against three members of an Orange County hip hop band accused in a publicity stunt on the 101 Freeway that left thousands of motorists stuck in a miles-long backup.

Christopher Roy Wright, 32, David Paul Hale, 30, and Keith R. Yackey, 32, are charged with one felony count of conspiracy, two misdemeanor counts of resisting, obstructing or delaying Los Angeles police and California Highway Patrol officers and one misdemeanor count each of public nuisance and false imprisonment.

The three are accused of climbing on top of a truck decorated with pictures of the band and its logos about 11 a.m. on Oct. 12 and performing as traffic ground to a halt around the vehicle, which blocked three of the four southbound lanes of the freeway near Sunset Boulevard.

Police arrived and three arrests were made, but the driver took the keys to the truck and drove off in another vehicle. A tow truck had to be called in to remove the vehicle, with the freeway lanes reopened shortly after noon.

"This was not a matter involving free speech or lawful protest," said Los Angeles County District Attorney Steve Cooley. "This was a well-orchestrated commercial stunt perpetrated by these defendants and their accomplices with no concern for the lives or well-being of thousands of innocent victims who were caught up in the prank."

The defendants -- who will be arraigned next month -- are accused of repeatedly refusing officers' instructions to stop playing their musical instruments, get down off the vehicle and move the truck.

The criminal complaint also alleges that the vehicle was specially outfitted for the concert and that the date of the freeway "concert" was changed from Columbus Day to one day later "so that more vehicles would be on the freeway and thus cause a bigger disruption."

The Imperial Stars, a self-described "hard core hip hop band" from Orange County, has a song called "Traffic Jam 101."

Copyright CNS - City News Service
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